Commonalities between markets and (usually failing) politics

The logic of the market is predicated on the pervasive and obvious inequality of humans. No two people have the same scales of values, talents, or ambitions. It is this radical inequality, and the freedom to choose our own lot in life, that makes markets – division of labor, production and distribution of goods and services – possible. Our differences are reflected in our outcomes and results which are converted into market commodities/products/services. The latter we exchange for what we need/want but do not have.

In (most of modern) politics the ideological parallel is easily imitated. For example, system of voting is designed to replicate the market’s participatory features. In fact, it is a perverse distortion of the market system. In markets, you get the goods you pay for. If you don’t and there’s been a violation of contract, you have legal recourse. In voting, people are not actually purchasing anything but the politician’s word/promises, which is legally un-claimable. Furthermore, a politician has every incentive to lie, manipulate, or twist to produce the desired result.

“Politicians shake our hand before elections and our trust thereafter.”

Politics does not consider individuals. We are merely a tiny speck on the vast blob called “nation,” and what this blob “thinks” is only relevant insofar as it accords with a political agenda advantageous to the country and its friends. During elections – our one opportunity to feel ourselves important and involved in our country’s politics – we are asked to cast ballots for people we do not know (or know what they want us to know) because they make promises they are under no obligation to keep – or keep them if it advances their agenda, enlarges their purse or contributes towards another election term for them. What’s even worse, the voting gesture is pointless on the margin. The chances that any one vote will actually have an impact are so infinitesimally small as to be meaningless.

In markets, success means entrepreneurial talent or business acumen which translates into the ability to anticipate, create and serve the needs of the market. In politics, success means the ability to twist and manipulate public opinion so that enough fools (so regarded by politicians) reaffirm the politician’s power and ambitions. It takes special talents to do this, which are not cultivated in good families – read Machiavelli. In markets, most successful usually deserve the credit due to merit, hard work and shrewd vision. In politics, the most successful usually excel in art of acting,  (in best of cases) rhetoric  –  in recent years, we hardly have seen any – narrow-mindedness and self-aggrandizement.

A politician, according to Ambrose Bierce’s dictionary, is “an eel in the fundamental mud upon which the superstructure of organized society is reared. When he wriggles he mistakes the agitation of his tail for the trembling of the edifice. As compared with the statesman, he suffers the disadvantage of being alive.”

What about likes of Patrick Henry and George Mason? They wanted to separate (the American) society and government to protect the people from being manipulated by cunning political forces.  Albert Jay Nock was right to characterize a country, democratic or otherwise, as a parasite on society, whereas markets (especially those where innovation and entrepreneurship are common) and economic production represent lifeblood of (free/healthy) societies.

Politics and markets affect each other. When politics has an upper hand, life of common people gets worse. When markets have an upper hand, life of people gets worse as well.

Judge for yourself.